Untrapped should get trip in Arkansas Derby

Profile Picture: James Scully

April 15th, 2017

Today’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) is the final major prep for the Kentucky Derby and Classic Empire commands attention. The 2-year-old champ is back seeking to reestablish himself as a major Kentucky Derby player, but I am going with Untrapped.

After opening 2017 with a pair of seconds in Fair Grounds stakes races, Untrapped offered a nice run before coming up a little short in a third-place Rebel (G2) effort at Oaklawn Park. He came back a little quick off a three-week rest last time and appeared to lose his focus after turning for home, and trainer Steve Asmussen adds blinkers and Mike Smith.

Speed played well on the main track Friday and Untrapped isn’t a dead closer. He likes to stalk in midpack and is eligible to receive a perfect trip behind a hot and contested pace. Out of a Giant’s Causeway mare, the son of Trappe Shot posted a 106 BRIS Late Pace rating two back and appears set for a career-best here.

I respect Classic Empire’s chances but don’t like the inside draw. The Pioneerof the Nile colt showed high speed winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) two back, registering 102 E1 and 115 E2 Pace ratings, and doesn’t want to get embroiled in an extreme pace battle. And considering he hasn’t raced in 70 days, and didn’t show up last time due to a foot abscess, Classic Empire could be eager from the break.

He’s draw to the immediate outside of confirmed speedball Rockin Rudy and with front-runners Conquest Mo Money and Malagacy stuck in posts 11 and 12, those rivals must send or risk getting eliminated into the first turn. There is the potential for other cheap speed as well.

On paper, the pace dynamics don’t favor Classic Empire, who is eligible to be a little short with the Kentucky Derby looming in three weeks, and we must take a low price today to find out whether he’s ready. He would add plenty of intrigue to the Kentucky Derby field but this looks like a good spot to play against.

Untrapped can finish up best of all in the Arkansas Derby.

Here are the Ultimate Past Performances for the Arkansas Derby